Life Savers!

Closing was set to happen on November 30th and then we had to be out of our house by December 3rd.  Between the time we got the contract and the time we closed, we had 6 weekends, only 2 of which we were actually home.  Whew!  We had a trip to New York for the marathon, then Pennsylvania after that and were also gone for Thanksgiving.  It was a busy month to say the least!  And to top things off, Caroline got pink eye and I got it TWICE!  Although Josh had trained all year, the marathon getting cancelled was actually a blessing and gave us a good solid, unplanned weekend where we were able to get quite a bit done.  We started getting nervous that we wouldn't be able to do everything so my parents graciously offered to come down and help!  They were absolutely LIFESAVERS and I'm not sure how we would have done it with out them!  My mom packed a ton on Friday during naps and my dad made A TON of trips back and forth, getting us all ready for the movers.  Then they took the kids all weekend and pretty much just kept them out of our hair.  I think Grami and Pop Pop were quite tired after it all, but the kids had a blast!

They visited Merry Madagascar ICE at the Gaylord Texan and then stopped by Rainforest Cafe for lunch!  After searching all dat and not finding a Gloria doll, Caroline settled for an elephant animal and Cooper came home with an elephant hat.  Those kids sure have them wrapped around their fingers!
Cooper LOVES this picture and carries it around everywhere with him saying "Madagascar" as fast as he can!
Grami's camera froze up from being so cold, but they managed to get some cute pictures in the lobby of this amazing hotel!



What a wonderful season this is!  
Have a VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With much love from The Botts Family!


all in HIS timing!

WOW!  I am completely in awe and humbled as to how God has worked this past year in our lives!  I have thought a lot about this post and am definitely late in posting it, but can now realize just how much we have been blessed and lead in a way that I could never have imagined for our family!

Our house is:

And every single step along the way was knit together in such a way that can truly only be from the amazing power of our God!  We started this process quite a while ago knowing that we needed to move before Caroline entered kindergarten.  We bought the house before kids were even thought of in the picture and before we really knew where we wanted to be.  Our neighborhood changed quite a bit in the five years that we lived there and that with the school district not being so great, we started looking for new areas to move.  Josh works downtown Dallas so it was important to us not to move too far away, still be close enough for him, but be in an area where our kids can go to public school.  Coming both from public school backgrounds and meeting so many people in college from private, we just felt that this was right for our children.  However, there are not many places that 1.) you can afford SUPER close to downtown and 2.) you can send your kids to public school!  We searched and searched and drove to so many different neighborhoods.  I would get emails upon emails every day from my very "focused" husband of different things that were new to the market, but nothing ever seemed to work just right.

May of 2011 we first put our house on the market.  We decided that it would not hurt to list it for sale and see what happens.  We were fortunate enough to use a friend of Josh's as our real estate agent who is a fellow attorney with him and just happened to have his real estate license.  This allowed us to list the house on MLS and not pay an agent the huge fee!  At this time I had an almost 2 year old and 2 month old little baby.  I would spend hours cleaning the house, only to have the people looking cancel at the last minute.  It was frustrating to say the least.  I was just learning to be a mom of 2 and very frustrated with the whole process.  We took it off the market after 3 months and were discouraged, but relieved to not be in that situation anymore!

We didn't give up on our search and kept researching different areas.  By the beginning of the year, we changed our options and really felt Lake Highlands and Richardson were exactly where we wanted to be.  We tried to convince ourselves otherwise, being swayed by lower prices and newer homes, but helped bring each other back to focus on what we really wanted for our kids and for our future.  After narrowing it down to where we wanted to be, we began to watch the areas for homes for sale.  We found a beautiful house in a neighborhood that we loved in March of 2012.  Although a little more than we wanted to spend, Josh was ready to make an offer immediately, however I really wanted a second shot at selling our house again and seeing what happened.  If the house was meant to be, it would still be available.  Well, we didn't know this at the time, but the house had sold the first weekend it was on the market {to one of Josh's friends no less, which we later found out...} however they never listed it as Contract Pending.  It forced us to fix some things on our house and get it ready to sell again!

April 1, 2012 we re-listed our house.  Now we have loved our house and really made it our home, however there is a huge electric pole that sits just on the other side of the fence.  It really does stand out, however it gave us a huge backyard and sits on top of a hill, giving a great view.  Well we almost sold it to the first people that looked at it, however they weren't quite sure about the pole.  We heard this over and OVER, but continued to have great success with showings.  Our first offer came in the beginning of May and we were ecstatic!  It was very close to what we were asking and the people seemed very excited.  The offer came fast and I was a little apprehensive.  We had a lot of friends get up to closing, only to have the deal fall through.  Well, this couple wanted to close only 3 weeks later and we decided we would be up to the challenge!  We got the offer on a Tuesday and at the time had no where to move.  We scrambled and searched and found no houses that we liked.  We loved the Prairie Creek area, but the houses went for sale so quickly and most sold with word of mouth.  Three builders in the area were tearing down houses and rebuilding, so Josh called one of them to get information on building.  Well come to find out, the houses were WAY out of our price range and instead of just saying "well thank you for your time", like I would have, my husband's response was "well, I don't mean to sound poor, but we can't afford that."  They were so helpful and actually told of us another property close by that they had bought in foreclosure in another neighborhood nearby.  No other teardown/rebuilds have been done here, but they had it for sale.  Josh and I drove by that night after work, both looked at each other and said "This is it!"  We agreed that we wanted to do it regardless if the sale of our home went through and we felt this is where we wanted our children to grow up!  Some friends of ours actually live in the neighborhood that used to be in our bible study and always had good things to say about it.  Knowing a little about the area and about the schools, we decided to take the plunge!

Still a little nervous, but way more excited having a place to go, we entered into the inspection period of our house.  The inspection came back with minor issues except it was noted that there were small cracks in the brick and there "might be foundation issues and that the inspector recommended getting it checked out by a professional."  We could live with that and were more than willing to work it out.  The last day of the option period, our buyers had a foundation company come out to give a "free" estimate.  After talking with their realtor, I felt comfortable that the guy was probably going to try and sell us something, but there should not be any real issues and he had seen homes way worse.  We do live in Texas and the soil is terrible in our area.  No house was free of problems!  Well, come to find out later, the husband and wife didn't quite agree on the house and the husband was the one pushing for it.  They ultimately were stretching themselves thin buying it and used this as a good chance to back out.  We were a little discouraged, but decided to continue with selling ours and buying the property in Richardson.

From this point on, God really told me he was going to take care of the situation!  The build process would take 1-3 months (so they said) design phase and then around 6 months to build.  We would have had to rent another house indefinitely and spend the year somewhere else if we did sell.  "Leaning... Leaning... Leaning on your everlasting arms".  This song played over and over in my head.  I knew God was in control.  I feel like it is very hard for me to give up complete control in my life and there really hasn't been a time where I have.  I felt that God was going to take care of us and the house would sell when it needed to.  This is SO much easier said than done!  Fast forward to October when the design process of our new house was wrapping up and the price just kept climbing higher and higher.  We had almost 70 showings {YES,  70!!} and not one more offer!  We started getting discouraged and Josh was ready to give the house away!  There were several times people would pop up and be very interested.  Now looking back, we can really see that they were placed at very strategic times and came when we were ready to give up!  They helped give us a little hope and calm our nerves.

Our plan was to leave it on the market through October and then take it off for the holidays and put it on fresh in the spring.  I have never been more humbled and more moved to my knees during a time period.  I prayed and prayed over the house and prayed for guidance that we were making the right decision.  The first week of October, Josh decided to not change the price of the house, but mark the price off $10,000 on a flyer in the kitchen.  Well, after some people looked at the house that weekend, we got an offer!  The offer was for $10,000 less than asking (exactly what we put on the flier) but with a contingency that she first had to sell her house.  We knew we better take this offer (seeing how it had been so long since the last) and we spent about a week with negotiations back and forth. They seemed to be dragging their feet in signing the final deal and didn't get it back to us quickly.  We had another showing during this period and I decided it wouldn't hurt.  I didn't go to that much trouble cleaning the house and decided "what the heck?".  Turned out that these people really wanted the house and had to move down here because of work from Minnesota!  Once they heard we had an offer, they gave us full asking price ($10,000 more than the previous) and wanted to close at the same time,  November 30th!  We all signed the contract and things could not have moved more smoothly.  What are the odds that after 5 months for sale and only 1 failed offer, we received 2 good contracts within the same week?!  These people actually wanted our house and came just weeks before the big deposit was due for our new house.  God is SO good and led us in the right direction.  We could not have done it without Him and give Him all of the glory!

So many more things just continued to fall into place after that.  Josh's friend had been trying to sell his house since August with no luck and he offered to let us move in and rent the 4 bedroom house from him.  We have a ton of room for all of our stuff and boxes and even still have a guest room set up.  The new house purchase price kept getting higher and at one point was just too expensive.  Josh and I both decided that there was no way we would be able to do what we wanted in the house and pay that price.  We actually walked away from the deal and the builders came back to us, lowering it to where we need to be.  The list goes on and on...

It has taken me this entire long story to tell you that God has His own timing.  God knows what He's doing and will show you the way if you only listen and lean on Him!  Thank you Lord for teaching me in a way that I needed and taking something that I couldn't do on my own.  No matter how hard I cleaned or how good I made the house look and smell, I ultimately could not do anything more to sell this house.   I prayed for that perfect family to come and you led them right to our house!  I was humbled and forced into giving up control.


Ahhh... Paradise!

This year we spent Thanksgiving with just the 4 of us in the BAHAMAS!!  The first day we arrived, we asked our taxi cab driver where he lives on the island.  His response was "about 1 mile from Paradise".  We weren't exactly sure what he meant, but after arriving at our hotel, we quickly found out!!
Our trip started out a little rocky {just like every other trip we've had this year... thanks to these wonderful airlines!} and we found out 2 days before our flight that it had been cancelled for no reason.  Luckily with this flight, Josh had done everything through his firm travel agent.  Because of that, she notified us of the cancellation and quickly started working on alternative flights for us to take.  I guess Nassau is not the most popular Thanksgiving destination, so we didn't have many options. We decided to take a flight a day earlier and arrive in the Bahamas at 5pm the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  We saved a little money by staying at a different hotel that night, but were able to spend the entire next day at the resort.  It was WELL worth it!  We had a wonderful time!
The weather was great and the views were just amazing!  
My little Diva was thrilled to be wearing her swimming suit and Minnie Mouse cover up.  Here she is posing in the lobby anxiously awaiting to go out to the pools!

This was definitely a KID resort {however not very stroller friendly!}. Life jackets were available everywhere and quite a few of the pools were pretty shallow.  
Cooper loved riding the slides with Daddy and brave Caroline conquered the bigger ones all by herself!  She was quite the dare devil!

Atlantis has an amazing aquarium which you can view from all angles.  We visited down below quite frequently and Caroline was convinced that all of the fish just loved her!  
The eels were one of her favorites!  There were probably 20 in this small tank and they all hid in the jars.  They would stick their heads out and were so long when stretched all the way out.  I would definitely say they were CREEPY!
One of our favorite places was on a lagoon that was off of the ocean, so there were slight waves and a sandy beach.  The kids loved playing with their plastic cups {like usual} and made sandcastles and drinks out of "strawberry" sand!

The best part of this trip was just relaxing!!  I think we went to bed by 8:30 every night and were always up early.

There was an amazing shark tank that had a tube ride going right through it!  Because the kids were too little, we weren't able to ride it, but you actually went through the tunnel on your tube and had sharks swimming all around you.  Cooper was just fascinated by them!!  We were able to ride the "lazy" river as a family and the kids thought it was the greatest thing ever!  It really wasn't quite so lazy and did have some big rapids.  They laughed and laughed as Josh and I held on tight to make sure we didn't let go!  It got a little scary at times!

And Santa even made an appearance towards the end!  There was an entire Christmas craft event where the kids made special Christmas items, got their faces painted and were even able to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas!
We had a wonderful time and could not have had a better vacation!  With so much going on at home, it was nice to forget about it for a little while and just not HAVE to do anything!  We originally planned to take this trip with Caroline before we got pregnant with a second child.  Well, that all came too quickly and before we knew it, Cooper was here with us!  We decided not to postpone it any longer and go while he was still free to fly.  Although we missed spending Thanksgiving with our extended families and we never quite felt like it was a holiday, this was a much needed vacation for just our family and one we will never forget!  


Just like Da Da!

Whenever Cooper sees a hat, he immediately starts saying Da Da!  He is just too funny and his personality is really starting to shine!  The other day he grabbed this hat out of his room and put in on backwards.  I got my camera and he was actually "posing" for the pictures!  He would go and stand by the coffee table, smile and then run back to see how he looked.  Oh my sweet sweet boy!



While dropping Caroline off for school last week, I discovered this hanging outside of her classroom.  
To say we are thankful for Caroline and her sweet bond with her brother is an understatement!



It was a GREAT DAY...

Miss Ellie turned 2 and in proper fashion, we had to have a fabulous birthday for her!  What better way to celebrate than with a FRESH BEAT BIRTHDAY??  My sister did an amazing job planning everything out and my mom and I were able to help put the finishing touches on everything!
An adorable drum cake!
 We had:
Jammin' Veggies
The Singing Pizza Cafe
 Marina's Drumsticks
 Rockin' Cupcakes with Microphones on top!
 Each child got a guitar and microphone along with a backstage pass.  Now Caroline keeps telling me she wants to go and buy a pass and meet the REAL Fresh Beats!!
 "We had a Great Day..." Goodie Bags
Groovy Smoothies
 Smoothies with a TWIST - for the Adults
 Hip Hoppin' Popcorn
 Kiki's Kickin' Fruit Salad
2 Kiki's, A Marina and a Shout!

 Uncle TWIST